The first declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day took place in 1992 in Berkeley, California.
The backstory is that 30 years ago the US Congress had chosen the San Francisco Bay Area as the centerpiece for a national celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492. The celebration initially planned to include replicas of Columbus’ three ships sailing through the Golden Gate. But a group known as the Resistance 500 had been investigating the historical information on the truth of Columbus’ voyage. The group reported to the Berkeley City Council that this was not a ‘voyage of discovery’ but rather a plan for conquest and imperialism. As a response, the Berkeley City Council voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Berkeley has marked the day ever since with a variety of community activities.
This year commemorative events in Berkeley include a pow wow and Indian Market, held virtually due to Covid.
This year marks the first time a U.S. president has officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a national holiday. President Biden issued a proclamation to observe this Oct. 11 as an important day to honor Native Americans, and their resilience and their contributions to society throughout history despite facing decades of genocide and discrimination across generations. What began as a counter-celebration is finally recognized.
The EcoBlock team recognizes and honors Indigenous People’s Day and the importance of recognizing the land we are on and our responsibility to become better stewards of the environment.
Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr